CHICAGO - Area 3 Detectives issued a community alert Tuesday after five similar attacks over the last three days n the Loop. They've all happened within a two-block radius of the 400 block of South State Street, near Harold Washington Library, Columbia College and Roosevelt University.
Police say groups of teenagers are violently ambushing pedestrians and stealing their personal property.
"I saw them last night," Joyce Johnson said.
At 9:30 Monday night, Johnson says she witnessed a tourist couple narrowly escape getting mugged by a group of young people in the Loop.
"Down near the Palmer House hotel on Wabash, they literally saw a tourist couple walking and they came and tried to mug them and they luckily jetted right into the Palmer house. It's a band of them, so after dark, I wouldn't be out here after dark," Johnson said.
Area 3 Detectives say similar attacks have been happening all week in this part of the Loop: one on Saturday, two on Sunday, and two more Monday. Police say a group as small as three, or as large as 12 people described as male and female between the ages of 12 and 19 is approaching victims, demanding their property, surrounding the victims and beating them until the victims give up their property.
"They were not older adults; they were young kids. Teenagers for sure. So I'd definitely be very careful," Johnson said.
Police say if you're out after dark alone, stay in well-lit areas and be aware of your surroundings.
"I'm surprised, but not so much surprised," said Tony Bedolla, who works nearby.
"People are a lot more desperate," said Najah Binbek, a pedestrian in the area. "A lot of bad things happened to people during the pandemic, so it doesn't necessarily surprise me that downtown is a more targeted area."
If you're a victim or witness a similar incident, police ask you to call 911 immediately and if you have the opportunity, provide a detailed description of the offender or offenders, including any physical/clothing identifiers, along with any vehicle description.